Western Belarus was part of Poland from 1921 until the beginning of the Second World War in 1939. One war was over and the other has not yet begun. This is the time when we’ve caught Pinsk. In this city that once situated near the Polish-Soviet border, people trade on the streets, wear bast shoes, use the Pina river for transport and just live their lives.

Since our Editorial Board is from the South-West of Belarus Pinsk is a special city for us. Along with the capital in the North-East and Brest in the West Pinsk for our region is a place where people go shopping, study and work.

It’s time to look at the photos. They are provided by the National Digital Archive of Poland and let’s thank them for that.

Polish army at the market in Pinsk after taking the city during the Polish-Soviet war, 1919


Part of the market and the cathedral church of St. Stanislaus, 1918–1936


Church of St. Theodore, 1918–1937


Butrymovič Palace, 1918–1937


Fragment of the staircase, 1918–1939


The Great Synagogue, 1918–1939. In comparison to Catholic and Orthodox churches, its exterior is very modest.


The altar in one of the churches, 1918–1939


Tadeusz Kościuszko Street, 1919–1937. Take a look at how the photo was processed. Not always did we have phones and made pictures by tapping on the screen. Crazy, huh?


The altar of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary during mass, 1919–1939


The bell tower and the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1919–1939

Panorama of the city, 1920–1937

View of the city from the river, 1920–1937

Not quite Pinsk — the Pinsk Flotilla on the Prypiać river, 1922–1931. Take a look at nature: marshland, fog, fields to the horizon. Real Belarus.


Albrechtava manor, 1927

Construction of a school of crafts of the Polish matica, 1928


The President of Poland Ignacy Mościcki (holding a hat) in Pinsk, July 1928


An anti-German demonstration on the 3rd May Square in Pinsk after the German Minister Gottfried Treviranus hinted at the revision of the Polish borders, which in Poland was interpreted as a threat of war, 28 September 1930. One banner says ‘Long live the leader of the nation Marshal Józef Piłsudski’; a banner in Yiddish is visible in the crowd. The following shops are behind the crowd: a pub, a shoe store and a shop with ‘modern and ready-made clothes.’


Center of Pinsk, 1930–1939. Note the tower that has no roof and a large number of boats. From this perspective the city looks like Amsterdam-on-Pina.

And here we have Venice. A fair on Pina, 1930–1939


Same place


Jesuit College, 1930–1939. Note the construction in front of the College.


On this shot the construction is completed, 1930–1939. The building is the warehouse of a Społem store, a co-operative that still exists in Poland.


Nadbrzeżna Street, 1930–1939


The port on Pina, 1930–1939. Passenger boats and boats with goods


A street in the center, 1930–1945

Market Square, 1930–1945


Members of the gymnastic section of the Pinsk Flotilla during the performance of a complex pyramid, 1931. Do not miss the onlookers on the right.

The dystopian building of the district court, 1931

Military assembly, 1931–1939

Market stalls, 1932

A not convinced saleswoman, 1932

The Pinsk market

The opening ceremony of the bridge over the Pina, 1932

An amazing 1935 photo. Elementary school students from Pinsk during a trip to Kraków. Dressed in ‘regional costumes’ and located on the roof of the Press Palace. Look at these faces, shoes, ornaments.

Trade in the cloth hall, 1935. The building looks quite sad but… it has a drainage system!

Memorial service at an Orthodox cathedral and the guard of honor in front of the bust of Józef Piłsudski, May 1935

Panorama of the city in 1936

The market, 1936

Note the national dress. General Tadeusz Kasprzycki and residents, October 1936

The ceremony for which the general arrived — handing over the standard to the 84th Infantry Regiment, October 1936

The standard itself. Take a look at the Pahonia emblem on it. Pahonia is the national coat of arms of Belarus and it was the coat of arms of the Polesie Voivodeship when Western Belarus was part of Poland.

Group photo of players of the Pinsk Military Sports Club ‘Anchor’ after winning the mayor’s cup, 1937

The Paleśsie Museum

A Palešuk on the market

Again the market as well as the bast shoes

Street trade, April 1937

Loading post aboard the steamer, 1937–1939

The Paleśsie fair

The opening of the fair, 15 August 1938. By only looking at the photos I’ll assume that back then locals dressed in the national clothes on holidays and special days but the bast shoes could be worn every day by some.

Fair at Pina, 31 August 1938


Timber rafting, 31 August 1938


Monument dedicated to the construction of the Pinsk — Kobryn road, November 1938

World War II has begun, borders are redrawn, but life goes on. Sleeping fishermen, July 1941